Device fragmentation is part of what makes in-the-wild testing so valuable. It’s nearly impossible to test on every different mobile device available while keeping testing entirely in house (not to mention the fact that your users don’t live in lab-like conditions).
Don’t think people are really using that many different devices? The Guardian looked at all the mobile devices that visited their properties since 2010 and put together a mobile device breakdown.
We’ve looked at the top 250 mobile phone models ranked in terms of pages viewed. We looked at traffic to m.guardian.co.uk, our native iPhone and Android apps, and mobile devices accessing the guardian.co.uk desktop site. We did not include traffic to our iPad edition app.
They created several graphs that showed the changes from 2010 to 2012. The most impressive image in terms of understanding device fragmentation, however, is a simple bar graph.
The challenge that faced our mobile team – designing a web page that caters to all these different device types – becomes clearer when you consider just how many individual handsets you’re dealing with. The bar chart below shows the number of devices made by the different manufacturers that access the Guardian site – again, comparing 2010 with today. Samsung and HTC alone now account for well over 100 devices. Add in Nokia and you’re at more than 150. Add in RIM, Sony and LG and you’ve broken 200.
That’s 235 different mobile device configurations that accessed The Guardian during a three month period in 2012 (a 43% increase since 2010). Visit The Guardian’s Developer Blog for more details and to see additional graphs. (The traffic breakdown by manufacturer is interesting.)